Was the U.S. track and field team that competed in Osaka, Japan the best U.S. team ever? This writer thinks so…
So, here are the stats. 204 countries competed in Osaka, Japan. The best of the best. In the medal run, the U.S. took 26 medals, tying its best medal performance ever. In fact, the twelve gold medals won by the U.S. surpass the next two countries, Germany and Russia, combined gold medals (5 plus 4, respectively, gives one 9).
But, I believe that there is great arguement to suggest that the 2007 World Champs team is our best ever, Overall! Take a minute and think about this-on the men’s side,
the 100 meters, the 200 meters, the 400 meters, the 400m hurdles, the 1,500 meters, the 5,000 meters, the shot put, the pole vault and both the 4 x 100 meters and 4 x 400 meters for the gold hunt. In the silver range, for men, you have the 400 meters, the 110m hurdles and the shot put. In bronze, on the men’s side, we have the 200 meters, the 400 meters, 110m hurdles, the triple jump, the long jump and the javelin.
On the womens’ side, we had gold at 200 meters, 100 m hurdles, 4 x 100 meters and 4 x 400 meters, we had silver at 100 meters, and bronze at 100 meters and 10,000 meters.
The difference from the past? The breadth and depth of the performances. If we we look at the domination at 400 meters and 200 meters, we should be pleased. But the performances at 1,500 meters and 5,000 meters and Tegankamps’ near miss at the bronze in the 5,000 meters should be seen as positives too! The one,two in the men’s shot shows that we are still a force to be reckoned with in the throws. Breaux Greer’s bronze in the javelin was a very good sign, as now Greer can relax and focus on throwing and competing in the javelin better.
On the women’s side, Allyson Felix’s complete domination of the 200 meters, and her run on the 4 x 400 meter relay should be good signs for the long term future. Kara Goucher’s 10,000 meter bronze and the performances of Jen Rhines and Shalane Flanagan in the 5,000 meters show that our runners can get back in the fight in the long distances.
In a recent interview, Craig Masback, CEO attributed much of the success of today to the coverage of the 1996 Olympics. I agree and disagree. The coverage was pretty negative at the time, however, the performances overshadowed even media with a grudge against track and field. Today, with coverage in many mediums, the young athletes of today are seeing Allyson Felix, Tyson Gay, Kara Goucher, Bernard Lagat and the rest of the team excel. This should encourage the great athletes of the next decade to come out and give track and field a try.